June 16, 2017. Japan has passed a controversial law targeting terrorist conspiracies and other serious crimes, in spite of a warning by the UN that it could be manipulated to suppress civil liberties.
The law criminalizes the plotting and committing of 277 acts total, including severe crimes such as terrorism as well as a number of minor offenses, such as copying of copyrighted music or avoiding to pay consumption tax.
The law has sparked protests nationwide since December, growing in intensity over recent weeks.
The UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, Joseph Cannataci, disapproved of the scope of the law in a letter to the Japanese government. “I am concerned by the risks of arbitrary application of this legislation given the vague definition of what would constitute the “planning” … and given the inclusion of an overbroad range of crimes … which are apparently unrelated to terrorism and organized crime,” he said.
Japan’s bar association has also stated that the current law gives police and investigators too much room in deciding what can be regarded as a criminal organization.
Opposition Democratic Party leader Renho made a statement that called the legislation “brutal” and a breach of the right to free thought. The opposition warned that the scope of the law can include petty crimes.
Critics also fear that the law, added to the widening of legal wiretapping and the reluctance of courts to check police surveillance powers, could stave off grassroots opposition to government plans.
NordVPN stands firmly against surveillance and censorship, both on the Internet and offline.
“Criminalizing harmless behavior threatens the basic rights to privacy and freedom of expression,” said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN.